Show Me the Fruit

In the 1996 movie, “Jerry McGuire,” when sports agent Jerry McGuire, played by Tom Cruise, asked Cardinals wide receiver Rod Tidwell, played by Cuba Gooding, Jr., “what can I do for you?, Rod answered, “show me the money.” After all, if you were a professional athlete, what else would you ask of your sports agent? Well, of course, we’d all want the best contract possible that pays the most money and benefits. In this case, Rod wanted a wage commensurate with his talent and what he could contribute to the team. In other words, he wanted paid in the range of his fair football market value.

In sports or any other occupation, we always hope to maximize our wages. However, there is an exception. As rebellious people before a righteous God, we want the wages we deserve for sin wiped clean. However, we are guaranteed to get the wage we deserve for sin unless we repent of our sins and place our faith in Jesus the Christ as Savior and Lord. What are those wages? As it says in Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death.” That is, not only physical death but eternal separation from God in despair. Hold on. Wait for it. The rest of Romans 6:23 says, “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.” So, what did we deserve and what did we get instead when we place our faith in Jesus? The grace of God is truly amazing and undeserved, right?

When we are “saved by grace through faith” (Ephesians 2:8), we are indwelled with the Holy Spirit and the Spirit produces fruit in us. In contrast to a football player telling his agent to “show me the money,” you can realistically respond to anyone claiming to be a Christian by saying, “show me the fruit.” Galatians 5:22-23 gives us baseline: the fruit of His Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. As we walk and keep in step with the Holy Spirit, the more this fruit is evident (Galatians 5:16, 25).

We can try “acting Christian” but the result is powerlessness and fruitlessness. Even with our best efforts, we persist in self-centeredness, anger, and a lack of joy even going through the motions of serving God. We can easily be fooled by judging ourselves by how we think we appear to others and neglecting the condition of our heart. When we love, desire, pursue, and fear the same things that the rest of the world does, we are not abiding in Christ, even though our lives may be filled with so-called religious activity. And, far too often, we don’t realize we are living fruitless lives (1 John 2:15–17).

Jesus clearly tells us what we must do to bear good fruit. He said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:4–5). But what does it mean for us to abide in Jesus?  Scholars center their discussion around a relationship with Jesus that involves connection, dependence, and continuance. But don’t miss the result. The result of abiding in Jesus is bearing fruit. The fruit we produce includes the fruit of transformed character (“the fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22-23) and fruitfulness in obedience to the commands to “love God” and to “love our neighbor as ourselves” (Matthew 22:36-40) and to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:18-20) to include evangelism (Acts 1:8).

As many pastors have said when discussing the fruit of the Spirit, I’m not a fruit inspector. However, we shouldn’t have to go looking for the fruit in a Christian’s life. It’s not hidden or at least it shouldn’t be. In fact, we shouldn’t even have to say, “show me the fruit.” Nevertheless, God is the judge of our thoughts and motives. Everything, I mean everything, will be brought to light when we stand before God (Hebrews 4:12–13). In fact, our works will be tested by fire. As 1 Corinthians 3:12–14 says, “If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.”

I realize a fair market wage is important and don’t forget the benefit package. And, in the case of professional sports, if it takes a good agent to get your fair market wage, then by all means hire a good one. But when we all get to heaven, Jesus won’t ask us, “show me the money.”  Instead, he will judge us by our fruits. He likely won’t say, ”show me the fruit,” because you already did.

A Work in Progress,